Thursday, January 25, 2007

Distant Cousin: Repatriation

Distant Cousin: Repatriation  
by Al Past

(iUniverse / 0-595-39929-0 / May 2006 / 182 pages / $13.95 / Kindle $4.00)

The action-packed sequel to the magical Distant Cousin is here! Matt Mendez and Ana Darcy try to continue to lead normal lives, even after Darcy's relatives from the planet Thomo have arrived on Earth. The pursuit of a normal lifestyle may have been successful if another nosy reporter, the FBI, the Mafia, and a conglomerate with scruples learned from Enron had not gotten involved. About the only normalcy Matt and Darcy can achieve is the discovery that if peppers are added to their toddler's green vegetables, she will actually eat something green. The whole affair hardly leaves time for Darcy to teach Matt how to drive her spaceship!

Al Past carries the story of Darcy, the ex-princess of Thomo, deeper into the realm of reality on Earth. Considerably more concise than Distant Cousin, the sequel carries the adventure into a believable sequence of events. The brevity of the descriptions of both characters and scenes does hamper the magic a bit, but the pace has picked up considerably from that of the predecessor, and that seems to have been the author's intent.

Yes, I highly recommend this sequel to anyone who has already read Distant Cousin. Any reader who is approaching Mr. Past's saga of The Barbie from Outer Space for the first time with Repatriation in hand will miss a lot. Although the key background elements of the plot of Distant Cousin are mentioned in all the right places for those readers who may be meeting Darcy for the first time, there is absolutely no substitute for a careful reading of Distant Cousin first. Standing alone, I can only give Repatriation four stars, but as a sequel, it easily earns the full set of five. I do not wish to mention any further plot elements here. Just open your mind's eye and imagine Spielberg directing the movie. Would he combine the two books into one movie? Maybe he would because the plotlines are seamless; or maybe he wouldn't because you have to slow down the action to capture the real magic of a starchild. I just want to feel the delight of seeing Matt drive that space pod!

Legitimate Reviews for Legitimate Books

As I have often stated on this blog, the reviews on this site are reserved for iUniverse books that offer deserving, original material. We are not an equal opportunity employer and we do not cater to the lowest common denominator. Cheaters need not apply. In case you have any questions about which titles are considered cheaters, here are a few examples:

Best Stock Picks for a World Economy
Get Rich Off the Housing Bubble
The Flip-Flops of Kerry & McCain
Obama’s Pajamas
Ringo Starr: The Real Walrus
Madonna’s Guide to Adoption
Rosie O’Donnell: The Slap-fight of the Century
Naughty Blondes of the Internet
Lose Fifty Pounds with a Vibrator
The Legend of Britney’s Panties

Would these titles sell? Of course they would! Here is an equivalent list, except these are real iUniverse titles that are currently among the top 50 iUniverse sellers at Amazon. (Keep in mind, of course, that these titles were not selected from iU titles listed under the Writers Club Press imprint. There may very well be WCP titles that would shove some of these out of the winners circle.)

Sensible Stock Investing: How to Pick, Value, and Manage Stocks
The Maui CEO: Import from China, Sell on eBay, and Live Wherever You Want
How to Attract Wealth, Health, Love, and Luck Into Your Life Immediately
(112 pages, including front matter, for only $12.95!)
Effortless Cash Flow (if you give us $24.95)
More Letters From Pemberley: 1814-1819: A Further Continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Vlad Dracula: The Dragon Prince
The Russian Adoption Handbook
Twelve Step Plan to Becoming an Actor in LA
A Stripper’s Tail: Confessions of a Las Vegas Stripper
Pick-Up Lines That Work: Get the Girl Tonight!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Ten Hints for Prospective iU Authors

I have just posted a new article at Authors Den that many of you may be interested in, particularly if you have a book yet to be submitted to a publisher. It details a list of ten things that new POD authors often overlook when they submit their manuscripts. These are hints and ideas that I have encountered in my experiences with contributing to traditionally published books, publishing my own four iUniverse books, and reviewing iU books for this blog. Click the link to read the article.

...And Now for Something Completely Different:

Have you visited my political discussion blog? Suck the Boob

Have you seen how the Honda 50 changed America in 1959? Tiddlerosis

Would you like to see a picture of me looking stoopid, standing next to a big boat? Yeah, this is really me.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Ship Full of Rats

Every new major development in America's commercialized culture follows a distinct pattern in its growth from infancy to a market past its prime. The computer industry reached this particular description of a peak in 1998. The internet followed with its peak in 2000. The POD industry began at the end of '97 and peaked with the internet in 2000. Those pioneering POD authors among us may remember the hope and joy we experienced back in the good old days. The feeling was both similar to and closely linked with the feelings we had about the internet in general during that same brief, glorious era. As the POD ship filled up to capacity with the artistic, technological innovators of the new millennium, the rats were climbing aboard, silently waiting for their opportunity. The rats usually fall into one of two groups.

Since I began this blog, I have tried as tactfully as I can to expose the slap-fighters. These are the people you might call the Sean Hannitys of our little world. They will do or say anything to retain the power of the status quo. Their repetitive laments include the same old whines. Print On Demand is a printing method. POD authors have not really been published because they did not survive the slushpile. 99% of POD books are garbage. Authors are patently unable to edit and proofread their own work. You must have a professionally designed cover to succeed. Only family members will ever read a POD author's book. Amazon is not good enough: you have to have your book for sale in B&N stores. Libraries hate POD books. POD publishers are nothing more than vanity presses. POD publishers are printers, not real publishers. Bookstore employees hate POD books. Bookstores will not order POD books. Have you heard enough yet? Do I have to explain to you that many of these particular rats are just trying to sell whatever they are selling? Have you noticed that many of the loudest slap-fighters are cover designers, micro-publishers, message board flamers, or bloggers tooting their own horns?

The other rat variety could care less about denigrating your publishing efforts. Instead, this type just wants to sell you something. The something is as usually close to nothing as it can possibly be. Their entire purpose is to sell you nothing for something. They will tell you all about the sales success they can bring for your book. In this manner, they are the opposite of the slap-fighters. They are all honey. The slap-fighters are all vinegar. If you have published a POD book, you have probably been approached by at least a few of these honeydrippers. If you have been promoting multiple releases online for several years, as I have, you have probably seen every scam the 'drippers have dreamed up. You find them in your mailbox and you discover them whenever you boot up your computer. For only $5999, we will make you a best-selling author! Our websites have the professional look that you need to succeed. Our multitudinous contacts will bring you fame and fortune beyond your wildest dreams. Our professional marketing specialists will assist you in writing the best press release possible. We have arranged radio interviews for nationally famous authors. Would you like to sell your manuscript as a successful screenplay? Are you barfing yet? Here's a fresh bag. Mine's already full.

If you are wondering why I don't just name the names of these rats, it is simply because I choose to take the high road, publicly at least. I usually don't pull any punches when I am communicating with a fellow author via private email. That's the main difference between me and Sean Hannity. I feel about as strongly about the once-closed door that has been opened by iUniverse as he does about President Bush's policies. He spouts his opinion to millions of people (morons?) five nights a week. I try to be a little more low key. If you have a question about one of the rats, you can always email me and I shall privately name names and give you whatever opinion I may have. Blatant flamers will be summarily ignored.

Now let's get back to business. Poddy Mouth receives 100 submissions for reviews a day. I guess you submitters are the same people who play the lottery and eat at Burger King so you can enter the corporate contest of the day. Whoopeeee! Over here at the peasant blog, we just quietly wait for a book that is so good that our review has been quoted in the local newspaper. (Unfortunately, I do not have a link to that story at this time.) The review of that book's sequel, Distant Cousin: Repatriation will be coming soon. Watch for it here!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Distant Cousin

Distant Cousin 
by Al Past
(iUniverse, Inc. / 0-595-37292-9 / 978-0-595-37292-8 / October 2005 / 390 pages / $21.95 / Kindle $5.00)

Note: This cover is not the usual online version. There is a special, subtle quality to the cover that is not evident at B&N or Amazon. Just keep in mind that if you order the book, you will get a slightly better cover than is evident from the online JPG posted at Amazon and B&N. If you squint, you will see a face in the cover I have posted here. Now on with the show!

Distant Cousin is the best novel I have read in a long time. I can name about ten that I like better, and then I run out of titles. In what should be considered an appropriate fashion, the cover blurb (the same one you will read online) refers only to the first few pages of the book. The many pleasant plot twists of a book like Distant Cousin should never be given away for the sake of advertising. The author has added a new version at Amazon that provides a bit more information, but probably the less plot details you know, the more you will enjoy Distant Cousin.

Distant Cousin is a screenplay waiting to become a Spielberg movie. You cannot escape the visions in your mind from E.T. and Close Encounters as you read through it, and the magic so aptly personified in those two movies is also prevalent in Distant Cousin. The book is a SciFi love story with an adventurous plot. A human from another planet comes for a visit. She looks like Barbie, or the beauty from Species, except she is not a monster wearing a Barbie suit. She lands near Alpine, TX, which makes the landscape backdrop look like that in Wavelength, another movie with stylistic elements in common with Distant Cousin. A young journalist who has become somewhat bored with his job spots Barbie in the library, and he is fascinated by the combination of her beautiful innocence and the scientific books she is studying. The subplots begin to roll in, and that's all I'm going to tell you.

Al Past is a very accomplished, literary author. The sequel to Distant Cousin is already out, and I know you SciFi fans love sequels. The author thought about, researched, and studied the details of his concept for many years before releasing Distant Cousin, and the depth of his effort shines from the pages. Yes, the usual number of ubiquitous grammatical and typographical errors are present in the book, but that is my sole complaint. When the characters and plot are this good, holding up for the entire, considerable page count, I won't let the boo-boo drivel tarnish a book that deserves at least five stars. The closest thing to cheating that this book does is have a plot related to many movies, and the author has told me that he has seen less movies and television than the average American. If I never review another book, Distant Cousin has proven my thesis once and for all. There really are regular novels out there published by iUniverse that have not cheated with an appeal to obsessive genre readers, and they are outstanding! I am not a SciFi fan nor a romance fan, and I read about equal numbers of fiction and nonfiction. Distant Cousin will stamp its wonderful magic on your soul.

See also: Interview with Dr. Al Past
Review of DC2: Repatriation
Review of DC3: Reincarnation
Review of DC4: Regeneration
Review of DC5: Recirculation
Review of DC6: Two Worlds Daughter
The 2007 PODBRAM Awards
Dr. Al Past's Blog